Be Innocent

August 20, 2016

I don’t know if your personality is something you make up as you go along, or if it’s set when you’re born. It can go either way in my mind.

Folks with kids, like Elon Musk, say that for sure they come out of the womb with certain personalities.

I wonder though.
Are some people born to be crafty, clever, evil-hearted, like Danglars in Count of Monte Cristo? Others born to use flattery while wishing ill for you, like Uriah Heep in David Copperfield? Some are born to be good friends but are goofy & dumb like Patrick from SpongeBob? Some to be stingy uppity douchebags like Squidward?

Be Innocent.
I’ve been present on this planet for 35 circles around our shining star.

During that time, quite a few folks have remarked that I seem naive. Friends, family, teachers, coworkers, & even strangers. Mattress salesmen, notoriously hungry folks, look at me twice when I decline a discount, if that means it will come out of their commission (true story).

Naive is a word that’s meant as an insult.
It means you don’t what’s going on.

One night in college, someone knocked on my apartment door. I opened & saw a disheveled dirty older guy who said that his car had broken down. He needed something from me, either money or help, I can’t remember now.

I also happened to be on the phone with a sophisticated (aka non-naive) person at the same time. She started yelling into my ears to close the door. That this is a common scam. Don’t bring out my wallet. Don’t go outside with the guy. They’re looking for suckers to scam. By the end, she was yelling at the top of her lungs for me to listen to her!

So, I closed the door, feeling a pang of guilt and also shame at being so naive.

Nothing bad happened that night, the dude kept ringing my bell but I didn’t answer, eventually he left. I have tons of stories like this. Things that seem to be obvious scams to others but me assuming the best intentions in others.

Now that I’m older, and maybe a little wiser, I know there are multiple meanings to naive. A positive connotation can be that one is innocent. We expect others to be goodhearted. We expect things to work out. We believe in things more than most people. We’re optimists, bordering on delusional. The polar opposite of a skeptic.

I don’t think this is a bad thing.
As a matter of fact, I think this trait should be celebrated & cultivated if you’re like one of us.

SpongeBob SquarePants is innocent.
Sure, he falls for more scams and tricks than the average fish, but he always comes out unscathed. He is the Teflon Don, nothing bad sticks.

David Copperfield is innocent.
Edmond Dantes, innocent.
Luke Skywalker too.

Dalai Lama.
Paramahansa Yogananda.
Thich Nhat Hanh.

Tom Hanks, a notoriously nice guy in a cutthroat business, said in one interview: “I am who I am, and I think I have a good nature, by and large. But if someone takes advantage of that good nature, well then, you know, I’m not that nice a guy.” He was once getting screwed over at a business meeting, so he stood up and told everyone that his good nature will NOT be taken advantage of. Then walked out.

Warren Buffett is also innocent.
Straightforward in his dealings.
Tries to do good. Keeps good cheer despite what may ail him.
Not an ounce of hate in his heart that shows outwardly.
He’s no dummy though, been around the block 85 times, but still holding onto his innocence.

If you’re also naive, good-natured & innocent, don’t sweat it. Others may seem to get the upper hand early in your life, because it’s so easy to take advantage of folks like us.

But as you also go around the block a few times, you will become wiser.
Maintain the innocence though as you grow older because that will help you be like Teflon. Nothing bad will stick (for long), while the schemers & ill-wishers reap what they’ve sown over the years. That’s the law of the universe.